by Thomas Kurz
At a close distance, poor punching skills make fighters miss opportunities for scoring points, for putting their opponents off-balance and thus setting up a few good kicks, or for knocking some wind out of them. All those taekwondo players who don’t punch when up close are laughable. And so is their explanation that punches don’t score points because they can’t get the “trembling shock” on someone wearing a chest protector. Believe me, if you punch correctly, from up close, the chest protector won’t really nullify a good uppercut to the floating ribs or to the solar plexus. An opponent who gets a good shot to the stomach or is knocked down will lose confidence and will be easier to score on with kicks.
The video above shows clinch-distance punches: Ninomiya-tsuki (sliding punch), uraken-shita-tsuki (uppercut), and seiken-tsuki (normal-fist thrust). These three body punches work well at a very close distance.
1. Ninomiya-tsuki is a sliding punch that bruises the chest muscles or sternum as it pushes down toward the solar plexus or lower–toward the top of the pubic bone;
2. uraken-shita-tsuki is a low uppercut, to the abdomen or to the floating ribs; and
3. seiken-tsuki is the basic normal-fist punch that works at a range of distances–from less than a foot-length to an arm-length–depending on the height of the target (the lower the target, the shorter the distance).
A candle in this video is a testing tool. It shows whether the form of each punch is correct enough to generate the velocity needed for a meaningful impact–from a short distance. (People who have not experienced these punches might doubt their power, so here is the proof.)
The point of this demo is that these punches, especially the uraken-tsuki and seiken-tsuki, undo (often KO or KD) the opponent, with very little effort. That requires correct form plus good timing.
The form is verified by extinguishing the candle. If movements from the toes to the fist are not coordinated well, their velocities do not add up to push the air in front of the fist fast enough to put out the candle (i.e., the punch doesn’t pack enough power to fold an opponent).
The timing ought to be such that the punch hits the opponent as he or she breathes in. This is taught through an easy sparring drill. But first the form must be correct.
In the video I don’t explain in detail how to do these punches. As I said on the video, it is enough to know the basic normal-fist punch (seiken-tsuki) to understand the technique of all the other punches.
Students of competent m.a. instructors (no matter the origin of the martial art) do standard punches with good form and so can put out the candle most of the time. I videotaped my short practice session (or “don’t-get-too-rusty session”) to show how the same test of good form may be used for these other, less practiced punches.
If you have any questions on training you can post them at Stadion’s Sports and Martial Arts Training Discussion Forum.